The Greatest Show (Willow Son #5/Brothers of Rock #20) (8 page)

BOOK: The Greatest Show (Willow Son #5/Brothers of Rock #20)
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He
tried to push in too much I think. There was a discussion about Seth

s blood type and it caused a
problem.


Who
was the guy?


You
can talk to her about it. But he was around a lot. Did stuff with her and Seth.
Took her on dates. You know, he did try to be
…”

Brantley lifted the bat and swung
it down, smashing it against a can of beer. The can exploded and beer sprayed
everywhere.

But it felt good.


Told
you,

Mike said.

Hit the other one.

Brantley took a breath.

So, tell me, what do I do here?


That

s your business, son,

Mike said.

Just remember what it

s like for Emma. Okay? Whatever
you two had arranged she kept to as long as she could. Within all those years,
yeah, she needed you, but she kept strong. She

s
a good mother. A good daughter. I want her to be happy and settled with
everything. Seth has a long road ahead of him but I know the fighter inside his
heart.


So
I just stick this out?


Or
leave. What

s the
difference?

Mike turned and walked away.


Hey,
Mike.

Mike looked back.


I

m not leaving,

Brantley said.

I can do my job from anywhere I
want. And even if I had to go on tour, I

m
not leaving. I shouldn

t
have left before. I grew up different, you know? I didn

t know
…”


Don

t explain that to me,

Mike said.

There

s a woman who is afraid of being hurt again. And
there

s a little boy who
just assumes he has no father.

Mike went back to the bar.

Brantley gritted his teeth and
swung the bat again. The second beer can exploded. It really did feel good.

When Brantley looked at the bat,
dripping with beer, he exhaled. He would be the skunked beer can for Emma. She
had worn a smile for too long. It was time for her to be okay with her pain,
her anger, and her fear.

Brantley knew what it was like
to be a rockstar

but now he had to be a man. And a father.

 

**

 

Emma stood on the other side of the
car, leaning against it, like a defiant child. Brantley smiled to himself until
he realized Emma was sobbing. He then quickly rushed to her, keeping a somewhat
safe distance.


Hey,

he said.
Don

t ask her what

s wrong.

What can I do?

Emma looked at him.

I don

t know, Brantley. I see you standing there but I don

t believe it. And I don

t want you to hate me for that.

Gently, he touched her shoulder.

I won

t hate you for that. Ever. I promise you that. We

re here for a reason, Emma.
Right now, right in this moment. I mean, I just hit beer cans with your father.


Oh,
no. He didn

t.


Yeah.


Well,
that

s at least a good sign
from him. He never
…”

“…
did that with your boyfriend?

Emma

s
cheeks turned red.


It

s okay,

Brantley said.

It

s selfish to think you wouldn

t be with someone. You deserve
to be happy. Our arrangement didn

t
include forgetting ourselves. It bothers me though.


It
does? Why?


Because
you

re you,

Brantley said.

Maybe there

s some romantic fantasy inside
me that has this happening for a bigger reason. Okay? I

m not the guy you met all those years ago. If you
give me the time and chance I can explain things to you. Not make excuses. Not
justify anything. But an understanding. And for anything with Seth

he

s your son, Emma. You carried him. I can never make
that up. You took care of him. I can never thank you enough. But, shit, if it
was that bad financially, I wish you would

ve
called me. There

s so much
I could give you. At least in that sense. It doesn

t make me right or a hero, I don

t want that. But if it

s for the health of our

your son
…”

Brantley really had no end to his
point. He was going to talk until he ran out of words or Emma stopped.

Emma stopped him.

She pushed forward and moved to her
toes, kissing him.

Their lips touched for a second and
when she tried to pull back, Brantley slipped his hands around to the small of
her back and kept her there. He stole another kiss, because that was his style.
He urged for another one but stopped himself.


What
about
…”


No,

Emma whispered.

Trust me, there

s nobody else. Nobody even close.

Brantley kissed her again. This 
time, it was on. Their lips parted, their tongues touching. It was like a storm
coming back to life. A hurricane ripped through Brantley

s body and that was fine. Any damage Emma could do
was worth it. He could handle devastation if it meant tasting her one more
time.

Emma put her hands to his chest and
pushed away. She shook her head.

I
can

t

it

s
…”


Okay,

Brantley said.

I lost myself for a second.
Look, I can

t take you out,
that

s okay. It

s almost night. I

m not going to sit in a bar and
eat a greasy burger with you. Sorry.


Oh,

Emma said.

Brantley touched her chin and
smirked.

I

m going to order from your
favorite restaurant. Then we

re
going to pick it up and take it back to your place. Okay? We

ll stay there, eat, talk,
whatever you want. Put Seth to bed and figure all this out.


And
at the end of the night?


Don

t worry about me,

Brantley said.

I have a big backseat. And there

s plenty of hotels. I can make a
phone call and have my manager arrange it. That

s
not your concern.

They stared at each other for a few
seconds.


Brantley,
you can

t hurt him. You can
hurt me, I don

t care. But
you can

t hurt him.


I
would never hurt him,

Brantley said.

You just
give me the word and I

ll
do anything. I swear.

Brantley leaned and put his
forehead to Emma

s. He
wanted to kiss her again but held off. This wasn

t
all about him anymore.
This was about something much greater.

 

**

 


Wait
out here for a minute,

Emma said.

Okay?


Sure,

Brantley said. He grabbed for
Emma

s hand.

And hey, it doesn

t bother me to be your friend.
In front of Seth. I

m not
here to jump in as his father, okay? I can

t
imagine how hard it must be for you. And I don

t
want to confuse him. Not if he

s
sick. You know?


You
keep saying the right things at the right time,

Emma said.

I hate that.


I

m just saying what I believe.


Again,

Emma said.

She pulled her hand away and went
inside. She tried to convince herself that this was the right thing to do.
Nothing bad was going to happen. And once they were actually alone and quiet
she could then explain what she needed from Brantley. He was the only one that
could provide a needed blood transfusion for Seth. For some reason she was
afraid to talk about it. She feared Brantley would bolt. But why?


Mommy!

Seth yelled and ran toward her.

Cassie was on her knees, putting
toys away.


Cass,
I can do that,

Emma said.

You don

t have to clean up.


No,
it

s fine. I think I made
more of a mess than he did.

Emma lifted Seth and touched his
forehead.

How do you feel?


Good.


What
did you do with Auntie Cassie?


Watched
TV. Played cars. She doesn

t
know how to play cars the right way.


Seth,

Emma said.


It

s true,

Cassie said.

I
didn

t realize they had to
be in color order and in ninja order.


Oh,
right,

Emma said.

That

s very important.


Or
else the bad guys will win,

Seth said.


That

s right,

Emma said. She kissed Seth.

Why don

t you finish cleaning up so I can talk to Auntie
Cassie for a second?

Emma put Seth down and he ran to his
toys. His version of cleaning up was to make a bigger mess and then attempting
to clean up. Normally Emma would stay on top of him about it, but not tonight.


Hey,
how

s your father?

Cassie asked.


Fine.
He left his cellphone in the apartment. He had a doctor

s appointment.


And

your friend?


He

s on the porch.


What?


Come
here,

Emma said. She led
the way to the kitchen.

I
have to tell you something. You have to stay calm.


Okay
…”


Brantley

he

s Seth

s
father.

Cassie

s eyes and mouth went wide.

Are you

wait. Wait a second. You

re
saying

you and Brantley?
The drummer from Willow Son?

Emma laughed.

Yes. Okay? We had a little thing
back in the day. I don

t
look at him like you do, Cassie. But he

s
Seth

s father. Okay?


Okay.
Wait a second. I have to stop looking at him like a famous person. He

s an asshole.


No,
he

s not,

Emma said.

Nobody knows what he and I
decided upon. I don

t want
anyone to judge him. This is between me and him.


And
Seth.


And
Seth, yes. But it

s our
thing. I

m telling you,
Cassie, because I trust you. I

m
not letting him into my life without reason. I

m
not letting a stranger into my house or around my son. Seth doesn

t know about Brantley either. I

m going to keep it that way.
Right now, I just need him. He could help Seth. He could help me.

BOOK: The Greatest Show (Willow Son #5/Brothers of Rock #20)
4.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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